Younger professionals entering market as longtime employees begin to retire
The overall medical laboratory workforce across the United States is gradually getting younger as increased numbers of longtime employees in the profession are retiring, according to the results of the ASCP 2017 Wage Survey, published online Oct. 1 in the American Journal of Clinical Pathology (AJCP).
“The survey results encourage laboratory professionals to be actively engaged in advocating for the profession, both in the workforce and educational training programs,” says Edna Garcia, MPH, ASCP Director of Scientific Engagement and Research. “Awareness of the career opportunities and value of the profession is needed to strengthen the future of the field.”
Nearly 15,000 medical laboratory professionals responded to the wage survey, which was conducted by ASCP’s Institute for Science, Technology, & Policy and the ASCP Board of Certification. The ASCP Wage Survey, administered every two years for the past 30 years, serves as the primary source of information for academic, government, and industry labor analysts. Results from past surveys show that laboratory medicine is a rapidly evolving field.
This year’s survey collected data on wages by clinical laboratory occupation, department, certification, state, total years of experience, and age. New questions added involved asking respondents whether their facilities are located in urban or rural areas. Geographically, laboratory professionals from urban areas earn more compared to the overall average hourly wage. Those who work in facilities located in rural areas earn the least, compared to overall hourly wages across the country as well as urban areas.
The average wage of laboratory professionals, based on age, is gradually increasing in every age range, even for Clinical Laboratory Assistants/Medical Laboratory Assistants and phlebotomists, whose wages didn’t have an increase in the 2015 Wage Survey.
“The ASCP Wage Survey results make clear the value of quality data collection and how its guidance can help medical laboratory professionals identify areas of development and career growth,” says Babatunde Oloyede, PhD, MLS(ASCP)CM, a member of the ASCP Wage Survey Working Group.
The job outlook for medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians is expected to grow 13 percent between 2016 to 2026, which is faster than the average job growth rate, according to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“Strengthening the workforce can also be met through education and awareness of the excellent career opportunities available to individuals in this field,” said ASCP President James L. Wisecarver, MD, PhD, FASCP. He encourages the field to be actively engaged with policy makers at both the federal and state level, in order to be successful in raising awareness about the value of the profession and the anticipated workforce shortages.
ASCP launches online interactive maps from workforce surveys
In conjunction with the release of the ASCP Wage Survey results, ASCP is launching a set of online interactive maps that incorporate findings from its workforce surveys. These interactive geographical maps intend to present the large amount of data collected in both the ASCP wage and vacancy surveys. The online geospatial visualization of the data will advance the laboratory field’s understanding of the current workforce scenario. The first set of maps to be released include findings from the 2016-2017 Vacancy Survey, 2017 Wage Survey, and a map showing locations of current laboratory training programs across the United States.
The maps also show state and regional distribution of vacancy, retirements, certification, age, location, and hourly wage for laboratory professionals across the United States. Users have the ability to navigate the maps to search for workforce data based on occupational titles, occupational levels and departments of their choice. These publicly shared online maps are available on the ASCP website at no cost.